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Flying training at Spence Air Base was conducted by Hawthorne School of Aeronautics.  Flight Supervisors and Instructor Pilots employed by Hawthorne were ex-military and professional civilian pilots with additional current USAF training.  Trainees were USAF Aviation Cadets and Student Officers, occasional students from other US armed force branches, and students from over 30 allied countries.  The Spence flying training course lasted six months with approximately 30 flying hours in smaller “screening” type aircraft and an additional 100 hours in larger, more complex aircraft.  Students alternated between morning and afternoon flight schedules with other required training during the remaining half day.

Stdnt Bks
Student Barracks
Home Sweet Home
To Gr Sch
To Ground School
 Grnd Schl    Link
It wasn’t all flying - ground school and Link training played an important role.

 Stdnts Flt Line
One flight of students departs the flight line as a second flight arrives.

  Briefed    De-briefed
Flight students were briefed before and debriefed after their flights each day.

  T-6 Point   Alone in T-6  T-28 Point
Preparing to head off into the wild blue.

  Acc Solo   olo Should  Solo Pool
A day one never forgets - that first solo flight.

Nt Flt L Nt Flt R
The training didn't stop when the sun went down.

 Mil Chk Plt   Stan Brd   
Spence military check pilots and the USAF Standardization Board checked both students and instructors for compliance with strict USAF standards.

  Sfty Awrd   Awrd Grp
In late 1950’s Spence won two consecutive USAF Flying Safety Awards (1.33 accidents per 100,000 flying hours) - the first time a Primary base earned such an honor.

Section II Instructor Pilots - 1954.   This group represented about one quarter of the total instructor staff at Spence at that time.

T-6 Stdnts 
Typical T-6 Student Group (Class 55-N)
L to R, A/C R.D. McKinley, Hagerstown, MD - A/C I.R. Roland, Asheville, NC - Instructor Bruce Watson - A/C R.H. Tittiger, Birmingham, MI - A/C R.D. Walker, Napa, CA                                                   
T-28 Stdnts 
Typical T-28 Student Group (Class 56-J)
L to R,  2/Lt. P.J. Webber, Rutland, MA - 2/LT. A. E. Stebbins, Lansing, MI - Instructor Bruce Watson - 2/Lt. F.T Knickerbocker, Pittsburgh, PA - A/C W.G. Molenaar, Medemblik, Holland.

  Cl 57R
Spence Graduation - Class 57-R Aviation Cadets.  January, 1957.  Photographed in Spence Aviation Cadet Mess Hall.  For enlargement of Class 57-R picture click here.

T-37 Classes

Spence was among the first of the Contract Primary Schools to  receive the T-37 jet trainer.  It was placed in service in early 1960 and a total of five T-34 / T-37 classes (61-F, 61-G, 61-G2, 62-A and 62-B) were trained before the base closed.  Tiger and Bearcat flights trained the first (61-F / 14 Mar 60 through 26 Aug 60 ) and the last (62-B / 29 Aug 60 through 21 Dec 60) of these classes.                                        

Tiger Flight (61-F)  
Arnold Lester (Flight Commander), Dispatcher Sirmans, Don Morrow (Asst. Flt. Commander)
     Bearcat Flight (61-F)
Dispatcher Williams , Pete Pederson (Asst. Flt. Commander), Bob Rose (Flight Commander)

T-37 Pilot Report

Hwthrn Wngs

Related Internet Links

Distinguished Graduates                      

Major Mike Adams - X-15 Pilot
Br. Gen'l James A. McDivitt (Cl 52-C) - Astronaut
Colonel Stuart Roosa (Cl. 55-K) - Astronaut
Gen'l Charles A. Horner - Commander/Air Operations, "Desert Storm"
Br. Gen'l James W. Wold (Cl. 53-F)
Eugene F. "Gene" Kranz - NASA Flight Director

Give us yourrecommendation for additions to these lists.